It’s become very difficult nowadays to find someone who hasn’t heard of Comic-Con. It’s to comics and geek properties what Sundance is to indie film, and Coachella is to music. One of those magical places dedicated to something people are really passionate about that is sort of a pain to navigate, but so, so worth it. Something that anyone outside of this industry may not know however, is that Comic-Con is not the only place to get your geek fix. There are conventions happening pretty much constantly, all across the world. If you’re just looking for some autographs and action figures, there is a Wizard World show pretty much constantly. But if you’re looking for a substantial convention experience with a real community, here are our suggestions.
Comic-Con’s little brother and a peak into Comic-Cons of yore, Wondercon has easily become a favorite of mine over the past couple of years. Originally held in San Francisco and hopefully returning there next year (Anaheim = nooooo), Wondercon has the giant comic booths and major studio panels, as well as the feel of an old school Convention where meeting your favorite artists and buying comics is the preferred activity over waiting in line. For my favorite parts of Wondercon this year, head here.
March 16-18 2012
The biggest Con in the Pacific Northwest takes over downtown Seattle every Spring and is a regional show you should make a point to attend. This years event, which took place over this past weekend, saw sessions with top comic talent Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Dennis Calero, Matt Fraction, Georges Jeanty, Gail Simone, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Bill Willingham and more, panels on Walking Dead with Jon Bernthal and Laurie Holden, Falling Skies with Drew Roy & Colin Cunningham, Futurama with Billy West, John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche, Warehouse 13 with Eddie McClintock, Womanthology, Team Unicorn on Kinect Star Wars, Ernest Cline about Ready Player One, Appearances by Edward James Olmos, Summer Glau, Wil Wheaton, Adam Baldwin, Jason Momoa and more, a podcast recording with Kevin Smith & Jason Mewes, panels and signings with the best of the best voice talent around, plus a panel on upcoming 2012 movies was moderated by Film.com’s own Laremy Legel! ECCC even has its own exclusives! Next year, Emerald City Comic Con, I’m coming for you!
March 30 – April 1, 2012
Still finding its footing, C2E2 is run by Reed, the same folks who run New York Comic Con. The space is huge and the comic guests major. TV shows have started appearing there pretty regularly, and I would keep a lookout for more and more studio panels to appear there as C2E2 begins to take its place among the Convention big boys. When I went in its first year, the dealer’s room was incredible, and although none of the panels were really my thing, attendees seemed thrilled to have a large scale convention in Chicago and loved every moment of it. Still not quite at the level as the others on this list, there’s no reason to suspect C2E2 won’t get there within the next few years.
April 12-15, 2012
My favorite con as a kid, though this Denver celebration has changed locations over the years, it’s never lost its heart. This was the convention that made me fall in love with the potential of what a convention community could be. When I was 10, I made friends around my age who I would then see and hang out with twice every year (the Con used to be held twice annually). When I was a teen, I got to “help” when Tobey Maguire came for Spiderman, but my Tobey obsessed self, complete with homemade “Tobey” bracelet, seized up. I was so traumatized by my inability to speak to him, I later wrote a college paper on it. It was at this convention that I bought my Scully FBI badge and discovered that ghost anime porn was a thing. The fans who run and attend this show are wonderful and enthusiastic. What sets this one apart nowadays is that it’s HorrorFest, StarFest, RoboFest, Digifest GameFest and ComicFest all in one, with different areas of hotels dedicated to each, and the balconies in the courtyard in the main hotel area are dedicated with a particular theme in mind every year, which helps create a real sense of cohesion above the bar/meet and greet area. There are contests and classes and costumes and a general feeling of warm open arms to all who attend. Legendarily, this is the place where Tim Burton had his first ever Con appearance, screening Beetlejuice and announcing himself that he would be directing Batman, so it’s fitting that the courtyard balcony theme this year is in honor of his upcoming film Dark Shadows.
April 20-22, 2012
Last year, this brand new London convention boasted panels for major flicks like Thor and Green Lantern, Q&As with the likes of Joe Cornish and Duncan Jones, panels for top British genre shows like Merlin and Misfits, an epic list of creators, plus the Stan Lee Awards, returning for the 2012 fest. Part of my incredible desire to attend the Kapow Comic Con stems from imagining a Dealer’s Room across the pond.
May 19th-20th, 2012
I asked @eruditechick to sum up why Convergence is so wonderful and she had this to say,
It is a laid back, content packed fan convention run largely by theater professionals and librarians that centers around extreme accessibility to guests of honor, a super engaging masquerade, and incredibly festive and elaborate party rooms that surround the cabana area feature themed decor, games, music and free drinks & food every night.
My response? I want to go. I’ve been hearing stories of this legendary fan-run con for years, about Wolverine creator Len Wein playing glow in the dark mini-putt with attendees dressed as X-men characters, about the NASA rocket scientist who cosplays every year, about the Star Trek themed room that had green drinks at the bar and a replicator replica, that was manned by someone who physically made tea and sandwiches appear to those who asked. Sounds like a blast and a place where I could actually bust out my zillions of costumes from Halloweens over the years just waiting to be used as cosplay.
July 5-8 2012
The one Con to rule them on. King Con! After over 40 years in existence, starting out with 300 people sifting through comic books to 130,000 waiting in line overnight and single-handedly supporting San Diego’s economy (an exaggeration, but close enough to the truth), Comic-Con has practically become a place of legend. It’s where fans all over the world dream of attending one day, a place where everyone there is so happy to be a part of the experience, that waiting in line and pushing through crowds and getting no sleep ain’t no thing. Although the full title is the San Diego International Comic Book Convention, one only need say Comic-Con and we know what’s up. So definitively what it is, that it needs zero qualifiers. Few other events become that legendary, such things are normally saved for historical events like wars and migrations, you know what I’m saying? A documentary about a group of people attending Comic-Con opens this week in selected theaters and I highly recommend checking it out for a really nice picture of just how epic this thing is.
July 12-15, 2012
A brand new convention focusing on women in the industry, I am determined to attend this year. A true member of the Geek Girl Mafia always wants to meet others, and it is one of those few tried and true communities where levels of fame don’t matter. A fan is friends with an author is friends with an actress is friends with a creator is friends with a publicist and everyone is on the same page, the same intellectual level, has the same amount of respect for each other, and appreciates one person just as much as the next. I feel very strongly that the Geek Girl Mafia takes care of and supports its own, and Geek Girl Con seems to be the place to find and connect with these women and establish life long friendships. MUST go this year!
Aug 11-12, 2012
Great old school convention with more Southern Gothic and music aspects to it than others. Music? Yes! Here is an example of how:
Jefferson Starship has created, especially for Dragon*Con, a science fiction/electronica/rock-opera ‘mosh’ of “Blows Against The Empire” and Vangelis score for the film “Blade Runner!” This unique concert will be accompanied by multimedia projection featuring HD slides of set design from the film.
One of my other favorite Conventions growing up, this literary cum multi-genre con has been making traffic horrible in Atlanta over Labor Day for the past 25 years. Dragon*Con has become of the bigger of the Fantasy/Sci fi cons, drawing up to 46,000 attendees and is the home of the Julie Award and Dragon*Con Parade. Although specific memories have become dim, I still remember how Dragon*Con felt, especially the Robot Battles competition, oddly enough. I always adored the atmosphere and especially the Dealer’s Room which always had my favorite art and jewelry of any Con, and I fully plan on going back as soon as I can.
August 31 – Sept 3 2012
In just six years, New York Comic Con has jumped to the level of Wondercon and Comic-Con in terms of a place where studios and networks seriously consider sending actors, directors and producers to share their genre related awesomeness with fans at large. Walking Dead has had phenomenal panels two years in a row, and NYCC was the only Convention to boast (most of) the cast of The Avengers actually having a panel and Q&A. One of the biggest differences between NYCC, and Comic-Con/Wondercon, other than Reed being corporate and CC being non profit, is that whereas Comic-Con has mostly TV in one hall and movies in another and Wondercon has TV Sunday and film Saturday, NYCC mixes everything up, all weekend long, with a WBTV show going before Sony and Walking Dead going before The Avengers. The Dealer’s Room is one of THE best around, filled with exclusives, especially this past year when the room seemingly tripled in size.
October 11-14, 2012
So which Cons are your favorite and which have you always wanted to attend? Sound off below!
Other recommended Cons:
Baltimore, Motor City, Dallas, LA Scifi & Comic Book Convention, PAX, Gallifrey One, London Comic Con MCM Expo